ISL- Indian Super League

I knew if I take part with Mandar in this project, a new era will start, says Juan Pedro Benali

Sattyik SarkarSattyik Sarkar

May 28 2023
NorthEast United Juan Pedro Benali Interview ISL

NorthEast United appointed Juan Pedro Benali as their head coach on May 22.

Taking charge at NorthEast United is a challenge in itself. With the club not at their best for the past few seasons and the team-building being not at par with top Indian Super League clubs, NorthEast United have lagged behind. At such a moment, the club hires Mandar Tamhane as their new CEO, with the hope to achieve glory. And what did Tamhane do after joining? His first addition came in the form of head coach Juan Pedro Benali.

Benali is someone who has followed the ISL in the past few years and is well-versed with the footballing culture of India. He has friends who are or were in India in the past and thus his decision of joining the club wasn’t one out of the blue, rather a rational one.

Khel Now had the privilege to speak to the Spaniard after his appointment. Here’s how the conversation went.

The project he wants to instil

It’s the 21st century and football has now become a project-based business. NorthEast United are no different. Juan Pedro Benali informed Khel Now about the project he has in mind for the club.

He said, “After the meeting with owner John Abraham and CEO Mandar Tamhane, I felt that they are the best people I can work with in India. The project is to try to build a solid team that make the fans to trust their team and be proud. We discussed all the points and we have the same idea to make NEUFC one of the important teams in India.”

Plans for the season

NorthEast United ended in the bottom half of the table in the past two seasons. In their previous two campaigns, their team-building was not a commendable one. An average set of domestic players added with a few game-changing foreigners was what the club had in hand. What plans does Juan Pedro Benali have for the upcoming season?

He shares with Khel Now, “As I said we need to rebuild the team and try not to make the same mistakes done in the past. When Mandar joined the club, I knew if I take part with him in this project, a new era will start.As I told you before, our plan is to establish a method to bring the team to the best performance possible.”

Saying yes to NorthEast United

After getting appointed, Juan Pedro Benali was humble enough to take names of the players or coaches he has previously met. The likes of Noah Sadaoui, Mourtada Fall and Sergio Lobera were a few which the coach mentioned.

When Khel Now asked him of his consultation with them before coming to India and saying yes to NEUFC, he said, “Of course. Before taking the decision I had many questions but thanks to the explanation of many professionals who knew the ISL better than me. That made me be very positive to this challenge. And also thanks to John Abraham and Mandar Tamhane, they cleared all the doubts I could have.”

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